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44               A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
Was it then reared, this Egyptian skyscraper, merely to hold one Pharaoh's mummified flesh, as our handbooks tell us and as black-robed Arab dragomans tell their tourist clients? Was such vast bulk cut out of the limestone quarries of nearby Tourah and sawn out of the granite quarries of far-off Syene, merely to hide a single linen-wrapped corpse? Were over eighty million cubic feet of stone laboriously dragged and worked under a burning African sun to satisfy the caprice of a single king ? Were two million, three hundred thousand blocks, each weighing about two and a half tons, carefully cemented together to cover what a few blocks could have covered just as well ? And, finally, was Josephus, the Hebrew historian, right when he declared the Pyramids to be "vast and vain monuments" ?
From what we know of the power of the Pharaohs and the after-death beliefs of the Egyptians, such a thing is quite possible, although it is not quite probable. No coffin, no body, no funerary appurtenances have ever been found inside the Great Pyramid, so far as careful historians know: although there is a tradition that one of the Caliphs used to keep a decorated wooden mummy-case standing outside a palace door and that this case had been brought out of the Pyramid, No lengthy hieroglyphic inscriptions, no chiselled bas-reliefs or painted representations of the life of the deceased appear upon any of the inner walls of the Pyramid, as they do upon the walls of every other early burial vault in Egypt. The interior structure is plain, devoid of the embellishment which the Pharaohs loved to lavish upon their tombs, free from the ornamentation which one might reasonably expect to find were this one of ancient Egypt's most important tombs.
Perhaps the point which is regarded as most conclusive evidence that here was the tomb of a pagan monarch, is the empty, coverless, red-granite box which lies on the floor of the King's Chamber. This, obviously, was the sarcophagus of the king, says your Egyptologist; who thereafter regards the matter as settled.
But why do not the sides of this sarcophagus carry the usual conventional texts and religious representations? Why do they not bear a single word or a single hieroglyphic inscription of any kind? All other sarcophagi usually carry some written or pictured memorial of their use; why not this one, if it was dedicated to one of Egypt's most celebrated kings?